You are on page 1of 5

Step 1 – Purpose & Scope of the Assessment

Stress is a powerful stimulus that affects everyone, including college age people. It is
the goal of Healthy Campus 2020 to reduce the amount of students whose academic
performance is adversely affected by stress. However, stress is not a simple, single
component issue; it is multifaceted and can stem from multiple sources as well as affect
other aspects of a person’s life that can eventually worsen stress or simple cause additional
stress. Since it is a more complex issue, we must look at and approach stress management
and reduction from multiple angles.
Step 2 – Quality of Life & Social Assessment
Effectors of
Spring 2017 Spring Spring Spring
academic
National ref. 2013 UI ref. 2015 UI ref. 2017 UI ref.
performance in the
group group group group
last 12 months
Stress 30.6% 30.8% 39.2% 35.1%
Depression 15.9% 12.0% 17.1% 21.1%
Anxiety 24.2% 21.9% 28.3% 29.8%
ADD/ADHD 5.8% 5.2% 7.2% 5.8%
Sleep difficulties 19.7% 25.1% 25.7% 26.4%
Finances 6.1% 7.9% 9.7% 9.5%
Work 13.0% 11.8% 13.1% 15.6%
Relationship
9.1% 9.1% 9.1% 10.5%
difficulties
Roommate
5.4% 5.1% 6.7% 5.5%
difficulties
*all above data was collected from ACHA-NCHA Surveys

Of the students surveyed at UI for all years shown, on average: 86.1% were White,
58.4% were female, 86.3% were heterosexual, 81.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24,
85.7% were undergraduates, 98.9% were full-time students, and 58.8% lived off-campus.
Upon analysis of the data I discovered that the prevalence stress, in addition
associated stressors, was high compared to the national results in nearly every measure. Of
those surveyed in the Spring of 2017 alone, only 38.1% of students reported non-existent
to average stress. As I began looking at possible effectors of stress (mood disorders,
financial situation, and relationships) I started to get a better idea of what may be causing
these higher stress levels; social factors could certainly influence stress with personal
mental health being another large potential factor.
Step 3 – Epidemiological Assessment
The effects of stress on long-term health are well known by this point in time.
Organizations such as the NIH have recognized that it is a problem and that it is a detriment
to long term health as it can contribute to cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders
among other illnesses. Upon observing the data specific to UI and seeing that the amount of
students experiencing sleep difficulties was significantly higher than that of the national
average, I was concerned since sleep is also a major determinant of health. Considering that
a greater amount of the student population is experiencing a greater than average amount
of stress and sleep difficulties, it stands to reason that they are an increased risk for
developing health problems in the long term due to it.
Step 4 – Health Behavior Data
• Neglecting sleep is a behavior that could have massive implications on stress. While
academic stress has been shown to negatively affect sleep (Amaral, et al., 2017), the
conscious neglect of sleep also seems to be impacting students. With only 7.4% of
surveyed students reporting no feelings of tiredness during their daily activities and
only 14.1% having no trouble getting enough, it stands to reason that circumstantial
as well as conscious altering of sleep is affecting academic performance as well as
stress as a lack of sleep, especially chronically, leaves students ill-prepared to
academically perform well.
• Neglecting exercise is another behavior that could affect the health of students. With
only 52.2% having met ACSM guidelines for exercise, it is obvious that this is a
problem for student health. There is an overwhelming amount of literature showing
the positive effects of exercise on physical health as well as mental wellbeing; an
increase in the prevalence of students exercising regularly could go a long way
toward reducing stress.
• Neglecting nutrition & body weight is a behavior that undoubtedly affects health.
Nutrition is not only important for the maintenance physical health but mental, as
well, since several nutrients play a role in brain function. This is a definite problem
here since 75.4% of students consumed less than three servings of vegetables a day
which most likely yielded insufficient nutrient intake. Closely related to this is
bodyweight of students: 41% were overweight or obese according to BMI with
49.3% of males and 35.3% of females surveyed being overweight or obese. Again,
there is an overwhelming amount of data showing the negative health effects of a
higher than normal bodyweights in the long term. What I found particularly
interesting was the amount of males that were overweight or obese compared to
females. I was a bit baffled by this at first but found some evidence suggesting that
greater amounts of stress have been associated with higher fat intakes in males
(Vidal, et al., 2018).
Step 5 – Environmental Data
The social environmental factor seems the most important to change since the physical,
political, and economic environment are unlikely to be changed especially in the short
term. Based on the results of the NCHA surveys conducted at UI over the past several years,
there is s a trend in the experience of socially related negative academic effectors. While
they do not seem to impact students as much as things like sleep difficulties and mood
disorders do, they still appear to be a significant impact from them. Unfortunately, the
surveys did not differentiate between all types of social factors; they focused on social
difficulties as well as concern for friends and family members which, while useful pieces of
information, are not the only areas in which social environmental stress can be generated.
A useful method to use so that we could better find out which specific areas of the
social environment are causing the most stress would be a survey specific to social stress.
Having questions pertaining specifically to friends, classmates, and the general paradigm
and expectations presented by faculty members would be useful in pinpointing which
aspect is most stressful. For example, if a measure like this was used, it could be shown that
the expectation of professors is perceived as more stressful than problems with friends.
Step 6 – Identifying the Program Purpose
• Predisposing Factors
o There is evidence suggesting that females may be predisposed to perceiving
stress more so than males (Turner, Bartlett, Andiappan, & Cabot, 2015). A
curious fact about the study that I found this information in is that there
were more female respondents to the study and surveys involved than males.
This echoed the male to female response ratio of the NCHA surveys here
which was surprising. This greater amount of female participants could be a
byproduct of higher stress as females who are experiencing stress could
participate in stress related studies in the hope of gaining some insight into
it. But, overall, the study showed me that higher levels of stress among
females is not exclusive to UI by any means. Data that is needed to better
understand this factor is the rationale behind why individuals are
participating these types of studies and surveys. This could be achieved
easily by adding questions to surveys or an administrator of the study asking
the participants what their reasons behind participating were.
o Mindfulness also seems to be a predisposing factor to stress: there is
evidence to suggest that mindfulness can result in less distress in students
(Galante, et al., 2017). An interesting finding of this survey is that the positive
effects of the mindfulness training lasted beyond the training period. It also
gave some insight into the role of mindfulness on the accumulation of stress.
Since mindfulness, in short, is the regulation of attention for mental health
improvement, it stands to reason that those who are focusing their attention
on non-stressful things would accumulate less stress. There is also the factor
of attention variance between individuals which would also effect this. While
I couldn’t find evidence that confirmed this, I do suspect that those who have
trouble focusing their attention and engaging in mindfulness techniques may
be more predisposed to stress. Data that is needed to understand this factor
is qualities of attention related to mindfulness; some students may be
inherently more mindful than others. A simple way to gather this type of data
would be to give a survey asking questions about particular thought
processes and foci pertaining to mindfulness and how present these are in
students.
• Enabling Factors: factors that enable lower stress are access to and attention given
to quiet spaces and the Counseling & Testing Center as well as access to resources
provided by Vandal Health. While all of these are currently well promoted, they
could stand to have slightly more promotion. Perhaps things like having fliers in
every campus building that students can access and in very visible, trafficked areas
would increase their use.
• Reinforcing Factors: being a student, I have a good idea of the potential stressors
people may encounter. Assets that would reinforce stress reduction and
management would be peer support, such as peer health educators, academic
advisors having students’ well being in mind, and signage promoting resources
related to mental health around campus especially in heavily trafficked areas.
Step 7 – Validating needs & Conclusion
After considering the data that I’ve looked at, it seems that all students should the
targeted population. As I noted earlier, females seem to encounter more stress but also
respond to surveys and studies regarding stress more so than males. While males also
experience comparable levels of stress, the disproportion of males to females in studies
may be part of the reason for this result. It is possible that since males do not participate as
much, a lower amount of stress could be calculated because of a smaller data set.
Step 8 – Assessment Team
Vandal Health and the Counseling & Testing Center would certainly be the most
qualified to assist with this issue in the scope of university resources. Since Vandal Health
already does much in the way of reducing student stress (with things like De-Stress Fest,
Study Dogs, etc.) as well as collaborates with the CTC, there would not be much in the way
of barriers to them aiding in stress management. The only minor barrier that is foreseeable
is greater promotion of both. While it may seem redundant, having advertisement for them
on every floor of every heavily trafficked building could increase awareness of them. Also,
since events related to this topic are usually in a central campus location, accessibility
would not be a problem. In terms of specific influencers being involved, it may be best to
have professionals well versed in stress and its effects involved. People like the counselors
of the CTC at events giving information about it may be particularly helpful. While
information from peers is valuable and very effective, there is also something to be said for
the information held by professionals.
Works Cited
Amaral, A., Soares, M., Pinto, A., Pereira, A., Madeira, N., Bos, S., . . . Macedo, A. (2017). Sleep difficulties
in college students: The role of stress, affect and cognitive processes. Psychiatry Research, 331-
337.

Galante, J., Dufour, G., Vainre, M., Wagner, A., Stochl, J., Benton, A., . . . Jones, P. (2017). A mindfulness-
based intervention to increase resilience to stress in university students (the Mindful Student
Study): a pragmatic randomised controlled tria. Lancet Public Health, 72-81.

Turner, J., Bartlett, D., Andiappan, M., & Cabot, L. (2015). Students percieved stress and perception of
barriers to effective study: Impact on academic perfomance in examinations. British Dental
Journal.

Vidal, E., Alvarez, D., Martinez-Velarde, D., Vidal-Damas, L., Yuncar-Rojas, K., Julca-Malca, A., & Bernabe-
Ortiz, A. (2018). Percieved stress and high fat intake: A study in a sample of undergraduate
students. PLoS One.

ACHA-NCHA II, University of Idaho Executive Summary Fall 2017

ACHA-NCHA II, University of Idaho Executive Summary Fall 2015

ACHA-NCHA II, University of Idaho Executive Summary Fall 2013